When I was little, there was a tunnel nearby that was reported to be haunted. It was pitch black when you walked in, and it was reported that you could hear the echoes of screams as if a person was being murdered. I never had the courage to meet the source of those screams. Reading Nightfall Travelers made me wish I was brave enough to go down that tunnel; I may have found a life-long friend doing so, like the pair in this beautiful manga.
Ninimaori Akane is not an adventurer. She takes her route through the city to school, goes to classes, and then heads back home in a jiffy. Though her route goes past legendary haunts, she doesn't think much about them. That is until she is given a special assignment by her school's newspaper club. Reports from students of ghosts and other haunted happenings have been growing, and it is now up to Akane to investigate. Akane is scared out of her wits. She runs back to her homeroom, and finds someone she's never noticed before. Amemura Fujino is quietly looking out the window; she is shy, quiet, and mysterious. No matter those qualities, Akane isn't going to go to those spooky places by herself. On a whim, Akane invites Fujino to come with her. Even more surprisingly, Fujimno agrees.
Every day after school, Akane and Fujino visit a different haunted location, learning more about the city and each other as they go. These slow and calm stories have a mystery side to them similar to Scooby-Doo, where what may seem supernatural has a simple, logical answer. They may walk down a tunnel to find out that the voices inside are just echoes from a nearby tunnel. So, while the stories never get actually supernatural, they do have a fun mystery to them. The main duo is also very likable, making each adventure fun to tag along with. On occasions, the main characters are the only ones that seemingly exist in the areas they explore. It makes their adventures more mysterious and their interactions more intimate. But the main draw of this manga is what people call, "The Vibes."
A large part of this manga's wonderful vibes is down to the art. Drawn in a way I haven't seen before, it is like the art was created using watercolors or some professional markers. It provides a dream-like atmosphere for everything, and it gives the setting a sense of life. Although we follow the story of Akane and Fujino, the city itself is a major character. Their home is a concrete jungle. There are forests of houses and apartments as far as the eye can see. The only way to traverse this place is through trails of neverending staircases. Wildlife and greenery are hidden away in dark, out-of-the-way places. It's a special place that the author lovingly portrays. The artist uses black-and-white coloring to heighten the eeriness of the haunted places. They also frame objects and places to trick the reader into seeing things. In this book, streetlights become evil eyes, and tunnels become gaping mouths ready to swallow travelers whole. These vibes would feel lonely and scary if it weren't for the main duo exploring them.
Even though they are different, Akane and Fujino make for a great myth-busting team. Akane is short, pink-haired, and outgoing. Fujino, meanwhile, is tall, purple-haired, and introverted. Still, they play off each other well. Akane is always the investigator, willing to go in and find the source like a good reporter. Fujino is the brains. She is more observant and finds little details that Akane uses to solve the mysteries. Though they are opposites, Akane and Fujino both love each other's company. It's the kind of friendship (perhaps more) that rarely comes in a lifetime. The world is scary alone; it's much better to face it with someone. Who knows? The things you may think are scary are actually beautiful.
Nightfall Travelers is a manga I didn't realize how much I liked until I neared the end. I was so engrossed, I was surprised to see the number of pages left to turn get small and smaller. The last chapter provides an emotional climax and a hint toward a bigger mystery. It was just as gorgeous as the previous chapters, but knowing it was soon over gave me a sense of melancholy. I didn't want to leave this world. I shared many intimate moments with these characters and saw many beautiful sights with them. I didn't want to leave them behind. Luckily, I have another volume to look forward to.
High schooler Ninamori Akane is assigned by the newspaper club to report on local places that are rumored to be haunted. She asks the new transfer student, Amemura Fujino, to join her, and together they discover the simple truths behind the spooky stories. Their friendship grows as they explore their town of labyrinthine paths and endless stairways.Add to CartLearn More